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The Open Skies Treaty remains a credible and useful supervisory mechanism

Statement by Ambassador-at-Large Dr. Andrej Benedejčič, Special Envoy of the Foreign Minister, at the Conference of States Parties to the Treaty on Open Skies, 6 July 2020

Mr. Chairperson,

Slovenia takes seriously its commitments in the politico-military dimension.  That is why we consider the Treaty on Open Skies as a vital confidence and security building measure in the Euro-Atlantic area.  This was also evident during the Slovenian Chairmanship of the Open Skies Consultative Commission in the third trimester of 2017.

We are therefore concerned about the current situation, as evidenced by this conference of States Parties under Article XV of the Treaty.  We take note of the decision by the United States, but remain deeply concerned about the effects of a possible withdrawal on the working of the Treaty, which serves as one of the three pillars of arms control.  The Treaty could be affected in terms of its operational functionality, allocation of observation quotas and financial arrangements.  Like many other States Parties we therefore hope that the United States will favorably reconsider its decision.

At the same time, we call on the Russian Federation to comply fully with its commitments under the Treaty.  In this connection, we support discussions in the format of the Small Group on the maximum observation flight distance over Kaliningrad, with the aim to resolve one of the principal disagreements among States Parties.  We also believe that different interpretations of certain provisions concerning the implementation of the Treaty are for the Consultative Commission to resolve.  This is precisely the reason why it was set up, in addition to monitoring the overall implementation of the Treaty.

We strongly believe that the Treaty remains a credible and useful supervisory mechanism. Instead of questioning its merits, we should rather think about its universalization throughout the OSCE area.  We should also consider ways of returning to conducting regular observation flights after the current COVID-19 pandemic.  

Finally, we encourage all States Parties to continue consultations on all the open issues of the implementation of the Treaty, formally and informally, until the Review Conference.

Thank you.